Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Lots of great fishing options and excellent conditions. Pick your species:


Anglers can check the summer stocking schedule, but these stockings are subject to change. For more up-to-date, confirmed stocking reports, follow @NickFishAZ on Twitter or search for #AZfishtracker.

Rainbow trout are still being dumped, and when they do, tend to stay near the top of the water column for a few days — something to keep in mind when rigging.

On April 1, the catch-and-keep season begins at Silver Creek.  Anglers now may use barbed hooks and live bait. The creek is located about 5 miles east of Show Low. See more detailed directions.

For something different, head to Lynx Lake, where some anglers this time of the year can have some decent action catching brown trout. Here’s a tip: Try fishing a No. 18 or 20 with wooly bugger about 4 feet under a float with a 4-pound test leader.


They have several spawns that will occur until June. They’ve already spawned in many desert lakes. If you’re bed-fishing, use brighter, chartreuse or orange-colored grubs so you can see your bait – and please release spawning fish quickly and move on.

Some fish have already spawned. And these post-spawners will be hungry. That means anglers can try a top-water bite. Try something such as a 1-3 inch Zara Spook in shad colors, or even a small swim bait (shad). The first and last lights of the day are the best lights, but top-water options are possible all day and night. Don’t discount an evening bite, especially during a full moon.

Dark-colored grubs, for example, stand out to fish as a dark silhouette under a bright moon. Although chumming for stripers under light is less effective under new and full moons, it’s still worth a shot – especially with overcast skies.


Flathead catfish are moving in shallow at flathead catfish-haven Bartlett Lake. Lake Pleasant is another great spot for monster flats.

Fishing guide “Flathead” Ed Wilcoxson said flatheads at Bartlett Lake have moved into 25 feet of water, and carp — a primary flathead bait — are easy to catch using corn.

But the Arizona Catfish Conservation Association member thinks the next state record flathead will come out of Lake Pleasant.

“ACCA has a (permit) with Game and Fish to tag flatheads and we’ve been noticing about 5 pounds a year in growth out of Pleasant,” Wilcoxson said. “I’ve been catching some monsters out there. The Castle Creek arm is good and Fireman’s Cove, too.”

It has been three years Wilcoxson boated the heaviest recorded fish in state history. On Friday, April 12, 2013, Wilcoxson brought aboard a mammoth 76.52-pound, 53.5-inch flathead catfish out of Bartlett Lake. See video of Wilcoxson’s fish story.

Finally, channel catfish stockings have begun at Community Fishing Program lakes and ponds.

See all of the stocking schedules.

High country update

Despite some mid-week snow on the Rim, the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest Service has confirmed that Forest Road 300 to Woods Canyon Lake will be open tomorrow, April 1. (The road will remain closed passed the lake, where the road turns from pavement to dirt). The Woods Canyon Lake Store is scheduled to be open as well. See updates on the Mogollon Rim District road status.

Big Fish of the Year

Jake Peters scored this 37-pound, 7.36-ounce, 38.6-inch common carp from Saguaro Lake on March 19.

Emily McCeachin with a 1-pound, 11.2-ounce, 13.25  inch yellow bass from Apache Lake on March 12.

All are BFOY leaders for their category.

See all the leaders.

Buying an AZ fishing license

Need a license? Buy one online and help conserve wildlife for the future. Because AZGFD received no tax dollars, anglers who purchase licenses consistently benefit all species of Arizona’s wildlife. So thank you.

Arizona Game & Fish Department Outdoor Expo is April 2-3

 The annual Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo is coming soon! This event located at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility is free and offers lots of activities for the whole family. There will be two kids fishing tanks, live wildlife exhibits, cowboy shooting competitions, boating exhibits, plus archery and firearms activities.

Admission and parking are free. Concessionaires will be on site if you would like to purchase food and beverages, plus vendors will be on site selling outdoor-related products.

The event runs 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 2 and 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday, April 3. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd in Phoenix, which is about ½ mile west of I-17 on Carefree Hwy.

Angler Reports


(Send reports and pictures to

Arivaca Lake

Went to Arivaca Lake on Monday March 21 had a great time. Perfect day for fishing almost clear skies, mid-80s, no wind until late afternoon. No luck early morning , but did get a nice 5-plus pounder around noon !I hooked the fish with a Johnson silver minnow and black/chartreuse trailer.

Water visibility was aprox. 4 feet. I hooked this fish about 3 feet off shore in aprox. 4 foot depth.

I also spoke with several other anglers and they all said  that they too had a hard time catching fish in early morning, but did good around the noon hour, also catching fish in the 5 pound range.

The boat launch is still easy, for the lower lake level.

P.S.: I would like to thank Game and Fish for this improval.

Lake Pleasant

Kevin H. of Prescott: Fished the Upper Agua Fria Arm of Lake Pleasant on March 26 with friends and family.  The water temperature ranged from 60 degrees in the morning to 64 in the afternoon.  The striper bite was even better than last weekend in 20 – 30’ of water.  Surprisingly, the bite lasted all day, and began to really slow down after 2:30 p.m..  Only picked up a few largemouth in deeper water (it appears that most have moved shallow).  We caught around 50 fish between the five of us.  Great day!

Upcoming free fishing events

What: Youth Fishing Day

When: Saturday, April 16, 8 a.m. – noon

Where: Bonsall Pond 5840 W. Bethany Home Rd., Glendale

Comments: The Arizona Game and Fish will be working with the City of Glendale to provide a day of free, family fishing and fun. Up to 1,000 youth licenses will be given out free on a first-come, first-serve basis. In addition, Game and Fish staff and volunteer instructors will be on hand to provide tips on fishing and answer your angling questions. Bring your own equipment or there will be loaner rods available. During the event, participants who register with Game and Fish will be provided bait and will not need a fishing license.

Contact: For more information please contact the Sport Fishing Education Program at (623) 236-7240

See the full fishing events schedule.


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